How to Write a Moon Travel Guide
You imagine yourself meandering through a night market of food stalls in Thailand, engulfed by the tangy air rising from steaming pots in search of the perfect noodle. You see yourself cresting a rolling hill on your bicycle in the verdant countryside of France, deciding which farmhouse guest accommodations will be suitable for the night. Maybe you long to hit the road and share your love of quirky roadside Americana, or can’t wait to set off through the jungle to explore ancient cities in South America. Above all, you want to write for Moon and are wondering what it takes to get our attention.
For many travel writing is a dream job. I’m amazed and encouraged by how many people want to write for Moon. I was a senior editor at Moon prior to moving into my current position as the acquisitions editor, and in both roles I worked with authors through the various stages of developing and producing a guidebook. I know the challenges involved in such a monumental task. Travel writing is a fantastic gig, but it’s also a lot of hard work.
But there are times when I’m envious of the nomadic life it affords to some. Maybe it’s the notion of hopping in a four-by-four with nothing more than an idea of a place and a dot on a map, and the childlike wonder the writer cultivates in learning to see everything as if for the first time—through the eyes of the traveler. I consider myself lucky that I get to armchair travel through my desk job, and I’m never at a loss for where to go when it’s my turn to go explore. The trouble is deciding which destination to cross of my bucket list first.
Seeking out new authors for Moon is one of the fun things about being a travel acquisitions editor. I love hearing stories from people all over the world and learning about the places they live and love. But finding the right person to write a Moon guide isn’t always easy. It may help for potential applicants to know what I’m looking for and how to grab my attention.
What does it take to become a Moon author?
What makes Moon authors unique is their insider knowledge about a destination. Authors for Moon guides usually live in the destinations they write about, so they’re giving a local’s perspective and not one of a travel writer who drops in on a place and writes about what they discover. Moon authors have explored the places they write about from top to bottom and want to share their knowledge with others. I look for authors who have experience writing about a specific destination and who show their passion for that place on the page.
Each time I review an application, I ask myself these questions: Does this person deeply know the place they are applying to write about? Is it clear they love this place? Are they passionate about travel? Does the writing make me want to go there?
I’m constantly inspired to go places, so I look for writers who can stir my sense of wanderlust. When I review cover letters and resumes from people who want to write for Moon, often a small detail will grab my attention that shows their knowledge and love of a place. It could be sampling every batch-brewed beer in greater San Diego (because it might prove useful at some point), researching all the coffee shops in Amsterdam for an “alternative” writing assignment, or tracking stats of every nationwide football match for a blog in Argentina. Whatever the destination, if you can show me your passion for it through your experiences and stir my interest in the place through your writing, you’re off to a good start.
Is prior travel writing experience required?
Prior experience writing a travel guidebook is not a requirement for becoming a Moon author, but writing for magazines, newspapers, or blogs about the destination you’re applying for is important. Travel writing takes skill, and I look for candidates who not only inspire a sense of place through words, but who also understand the importance of providing the nitty-gritty details of trip planning. All applicants must have a minimum of two years’ experience working as a professional writer to be considered. I ask applicants to submit a portfolio of published articles and reviews related to their destination.
Where in the world is Moon publishing?
I primarily seek out writers for specific destinations and solicit book proposals from qualified candidates. If you’re wondering what destinations we’re hiring for and whether we’ll consider your idea, a list of prospective titles can be found on the Moon Acquisitions Web Page. I update this list regularly, so check back to see where we are currently looking to publish. I also post job listings on Craigslist, so check your local writing/editing job listings to see if we’re currently looking to publish in your area.
If you don’t see a destination you feel qualified to write about but have an idea that fits into one of our existing Moon series, you can send in a pitch to email@example.com. I can’t guarantee that you will get a response right away, but I am an email packrat, and several times a year I search through old emails for potential candidates and ideas.
Who takes photographs for Moon travel books?
Moon authors provide the photos for the books they write. Please note that we never hire people solely to take photographs for Moon books. If you are a writer with photography skills, be sure to mention that in your application.
Where are Moon books distributed and how are they marketed?
Moon is distributed internationally, with the widest availability in the United States and Canada. Our marketing team and publicists work with Moon authors to set up events like radio interviews and bookstore events. Authors play a key role in marketing their books, and we encourage our authors to write posts for Moon.com, create their own websites or blogs, and build a social media presence through sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
What is it like to be a Moon author?
I hear it’s pretty great. In fact many Moon authors love it so much they end up wanting to write more than one Moon guide. But let’s be honest, writing a travel guidebook is hard. It’s not all about chatting up restaurant owners and sampling the local sauce. It’s about meticulous organization and meeting deadlines. It’s about managing data and documenting thousands of seemingly innocuous details, all while typing away into the wee hours of the morning and then dashing out at first light to make the most of the day. It’s also not going to make you rich. But for most, travel writing is a labor of love.
What is the process for applying to write for Moon?
Still interested in applying? I want to stress that it’s really important that applicants follow instructions on how to apply. The Avalon Acquisitions email address is the best way to get my attention. If you send it to my individual Perseus account, or to someone else in the acquisitions department, there’s a good chance it could get overlooked or will not get properly filed for review.
Please send in your query, cover letter, and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org and put the title and destination you’re applying for in the subject line. If you put a generic subject like “Travel Guidebook Writer” I will not know what destination you’re applying to write about and may not seriously consider your application. Please follow these simple guidelines, and good luck! I look forward to hearing your ideas.
For a more information about how to write a pitch and destinations for which we are seeking authors, please be sure to check out: Writing for Moon Travel Guides – Acquisitions & Opportunities.